As mobile continues to expand, it’s important for businesses to understand how mobile and social usage is changing engagement between brands and consumers during the holiday season if they want to be successful. More consumers (42%) plan to shop on their smartphones and tablets this year compared to just a year ago. Mobile retail sales reached $20.9 billion last year in 2012 and are estimated to reach a whopping $34.2 billion, with social engagement and mobile advertising playing a vital role in holiday consumerism.
Check out the infographic below for all the facts and statistics you need to know for holiday success.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I can taste it already. Can you?
No, I’m not talking about the mounds of savory stuffing and tender turkey smothered in grandma’s gravy (how’s that for some Thanksgiving alliteration). I’m talking about the sweet taste of accomplishment after tracking down a coveted Black Friday deal.
But how exactly do you hunt down that perfect deal among the herds of bargain shoppers?
You can do things the old-fashioned way and start clipping coupons, or you can put that smartphone to good use. To be cliché for a second: Black Friday–there’s an app for that.
So, without further ado, here are the 5 must-have mobile apps for a successful Black Friday this year.
Note: In the spirit of Black Friday, all of these apps are free–it wouldn’t be right otherwise.
TGI Black Friday
The TGI Black Friday app serves as a hub for all Black Friday deals. Through this app, you can search thousands of up-to-date deals across different stores and categories. You can also compare prices to make sure you’re getting the absolute best Black Friday deal. Available for iPhone and Android.
Think you deserve a reward for diving into the trenches and conquering Black Friday? Well so does Shopkick. With this app, you can unlock deals and points (“kicks”) by opening the app in certain major retail stores–Target, Best Buy, Macy’s, etc. You can also receive “kicks” by scanning featured products on your phone. Rewards include gift cards, movie tickets, and more. Oh, and did I mention these points are nearly doubled on Black Friday? In other words, you’ll be saving while saving. Available for iPhone and Android.
Can’t remember which side of the mall Old Navy is on? Suffering from shopping fatigue and need to refuel at the food court? Need to locate the closest bathroom? FastMall has you covered. It serves as an interactive map of the mall on your phone, complete with turn-by-turn directions to stores and restaurants, as well as current store deals. Available for iPhone and Android.
Once you’re in the mall, it’s easy to start justifying your spending. That $75 pair of jeans suddenly sounds reasonable once you’re holding them in front of you. Let Mint keep you in check. This app allows you to set budgets and monitor your balances and transactions right from your phone. Available for iPhone and Android.
Black Friday Deals 2012
Like the TGI Black Friday app, the Black Friday Deals 2012 app supplies ads from all the major retail stores. However, it includes one additional feature that’s worth mentioning. You can access Twitter and Facebook directly from the app, allowing you to get up-to-the-second updates from stores and fellow shoppers. Currently only available on Android devices.
Now, as cool and helpful as these apps may be, they (unfortunately) won’t do the shopping for you. With that said, I wish you the best of luck, bargain shoppers.
This summer, Google announced that they were coming out with a program called Google Now, which seems to be Google’s answer to Siri. As a digital assistant, it anticipates your informational and situational needs almost before you do.
The original Siri patent, Intelligent Automated Assistant, is filled with details on different options it might include in the future, but focuses primarily upon what Apple calls an active ontology that can understand what types of related information people might want to find out more about when focusing upon different topics.
For instance, within the domain of “restaurants,” Siri might anticipate questions about which restaurants are nearby, it might pull up reviews for restaurants, or help to book a reservation, or show a menu. Google Now’s take on the concept of intelligent automated assistant is a little different.
Where Google Now differs is that it attempts to learn from and understand human behavior. A head-to-head comparison of the newest version of Siri versus Android’s Jelly Bean Voice Recognition program at PC Magazine keeps on bringing up Google Now as a feature that distinguishes the two programs, in a positive manner.
Google was granted a patent this week that describes the predictive algorithm behind Google Now that learns from its owners’ behaviors. It can determine where you live and where you work, and can offer alternative routes to or from work if there’s road congestion on the route you usually take.
It can learn about your Monday night bowling league and that you like watching certain TV shows, and add both to your calendar for you. It can learn what your favorite sports teams might be, and that you like looking at the scores from games in the morning with breakfast. It remembers that you like stopping at a certain coffee house for breakfast most Tuesdays, and that you usually drop your clothes off at the dry cleaners on your Friday night drive from work.
The patent is:
Providing digital content based on expected user behavior
Invented by Sumit Agarwal, Dipchand Nishar, and Andrew E. Rubin
Assigned to Google
US Patent 8,271,413
Granted September 18, 2012
Filed: November 25, 2008
In a computing system, information regarding a plurality of events that use a computing device is obtained, and a time-dependent increase in activity for each of at least some of the events is identified. An observed interest by a user in an event is correlated with an identified increase in activity for the event. Information about the activity at a time related to the event is provided for review by the user.
Among the inventors is Andy Ruben, the co-founder and former CEO of Android Inc, and the Senior Vice President of Mobile and Digital Content at Google. Dipchand “Deep” Nishar was the Director of Wireless Products at Google where he help start Google’s mobile offering, and now works as a Senior Vice President, Products & User Experience at LinkedIn. Sumit Agarwal was Head of Mobile Product Management at Google for a little more than a year, and his LinkedIn profile tells us that he and his team launched “20+ features in various Google mobile products.”
The patent describes a number of different types of activities and user behaviors that it might see from its owner, and learn from. Some external signals might be used to predict future user actions, including user requests and communications made while using a computing device. Some user behaviors might be learned via sensors and GPS.
Many of these activities might be used to provide digital content. Siri will tell you the score of the Washington Nationals baseball game when you ask for it. Google Now will notice that you look up the score every morning after a game, and will start showing you the score before you ask for it.
The patent provides a very detailed description of the kinds of things it might learn, and how it might provide content in response to what it’s learned from user behavior signals. It includes a wide range of examples as well. For instance, it might potentially receive data from a payment processing service provider to learn where you’ve stopped to purchase coffee or where you’ve stopped to buy gasoline, and generate a timeline based upon such purchases and the places you’ve visited.
Take a turn on your trip to work in the direction of that coffee house, and it might provide suggestions on the route to the coffee house based upon traffic conditions, or provide other information.
It could also present a coupon for that particular coffee house while you’re on your way, or possibly even from another one that is along the same route, before you arrive.
This system might notice that you like to attend baseball games at the local stadium every so often, but that you only go to games when the local team was playing a particular opponent, by checking the team’s schedule. This might tell Google Now that you’re more of a fan of the opposing team than the local team.
It might present you with a coupon for a restaurant near the stadium about 2 hours before the next game against that opponent if you’ve been consistently going to games involving that team.
I’ve provided a really short and high level overview, but the patent is much more detailed, and is worth spending some time with to understand the difference between the helpful Siri, and the predictive Google Now.
Google has also published some very related pending patent applications, such as Providing Results to Parameterless Search Queries
A parameterless search query might be as simple as someone shaking their phone a number of times (shake once, or shake twice), pressing a button for a certain amount of time, or even providing a command such as “search now.”
In response to that parameterless query, the mobile computing device might take cues from the context around it to provide an answer.
These cues could include information associated with the device and with the user, such as the time of day, upcoming and recent calendar appointments, direction and rate of speed that the device is traveling, a current geographic location, and even recent device activities such as an email being sent to someone about a meeting scheduled in half an hour.
Another related patent application is Activating Applications Based on Accelerometer Data.
Under this patent, we learn that certain accelerometer profiles associated with different types of movements at different points of a day might indicate a preference to see certain types of digital content.
Someone who likes to go for jogs in the morning might like their phone to play music, or they may like to see news on it during a commute, manage email communications at an office, and view calendar information on the walk from a parking garage to the office. Different profiles might automatically call up applications you typically like to use.
Google is incorporating user behavior, context information, sensor information, and more to anticipate the needs of users, and predict the kinds of information and the applications that might be appropriate for the people using those devices. That seems to pretty useful in a personal assistant.
Over the years mobile communication has drastically changed. What started as a simple hand-held mobile phone that offered a limited amount of time to talk, but the ability to be used wherever, has significantly expanded in functionality and design. Today, with their small, compact size and various technologies and features, cell phones have not only captured the interest of people everywhere, but have become an integrated part of the lives of many. From texting to sending emails, browsing the internet to playing games, people have become heavily dependent on cell phones.
According to the Pew Internet Project, 83% of American adults own a cell phone. Also, a 30-day national telephone survey completed by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project found that 44% of users access the internet using their cell phone. The survey also found that many turn to their cell phone to utilize social media sites and post content.
The silence during dinner is no longer because someone decided to spill the beans about your father’s surprise birthday party. Rather, it’s because everyone has their hands, eyes and attention glued to their cell phone, whether updating their Facebook status, posting a new tweet, sharing a picture of the birthday cake or checking out the restaurant’s website.
While this may cause a delay in the waiter cutting the cake, passing the utensils and serving coffee, mobile technology is the perfect opportunity for the business to reach their audience. While users update their Facebook status, they can find a restaurant’s Facebook page, follow the restaurant on Twitter, share photos on Pinterest, and browse a business’s mobile site to learn more about the restaurant.
If you’re interested in creating a mobile site to help you reach your audience, there are many factors to keep in mind.
- Keep the layout simple – While you may want to create a unique layout for your audience, remember that the site is built for a cell phone. Users want fast and convenient access to your site and easy navigation.
- Ensure your load time is prompt – All too often mobile users experience frustration because a site took too long to load on their phone. This results in users leaving your site and a potential loss in a customer.
- Avoid flashy and heavy graphics – Flashy and heavy graphics can make accessibility throughout the site difficult. Instead, focus attention on creating quality content.
- Add your social media sites – Social media sites are heavily popular today. To help you build brand awareness and socialize, add your social media sites for users to conveniently click and connect.
- Allow your mobile site to work on various types of phones – While smart phones may dominate cell phone users, remember that not everyone owns a smart phone. You should create a site that works on various types of phone to ensure you don’t miss out on a potential customer.
Are you a real estate professional looking to gain more customers? If so, then you better get started on joining social media sites.
With real estate professionals on a constant search to find the best method of reaching potential home buyers or sellers, social networking has become the new outlet for reaching audiences with 84% of real estate agents utilizing social media. The real estate industry is actually taking the lead in the category of small businesses that use social media.
When asked which social media site they are using, 79% responded with Facebook. It’s no wonder, though, since this social media site is favored among all and provides various features for businesses to take advantage of. Twitter stood as the second most used social media site with 48% of real estate professionals using it. LinkedIn came in third with 29% of real estate professionals using the professional network. Other social media sites included WordPress (15%), YouTube (12%), Blogger (5%) and Flickr (4%).
If you’re not of the 12% with a YouTube account to provide customers with a video, now is the time to create one since 73% of homeowners are more likely to list with a realtor who providers a video. Results also showed that after viewing a home online, 45% of online audiences walked through a home, 29% located a local agent and 21% drove by or viewed the home.
For those who stay current with the latest in mobile phones and apps, the Realtor.com app, which allows those looking to buy to view home listings, has users spending an estimated 16 minutes on the app and over 20,000 property listings are viewed each hour.
While some professionals may find using social media to be far from what they are used to when reaching audiences, 55% of real estate professionals said they feel comfortable, 26% said somewhat comfortable, and only 10% said uncomfortable.
Now is the time for real estate professionals to get involved in social media and reach their audience.
The latest mobile app, Draw Something, created by gaming developer OMGPop, has captivated the interest and time of cell phone users everywhere. Since its release on February 6, the game has attracted over 35 million users.
Similar to Pictionary, one player selects a word from a list of three and draws a picture on their phone using their finger which the other player has to guess the selected word. Each word is worth a certain number of coins, in which the hardest word to draw is worth the most. The words include places, characters, objects and even celebrities.
When players first begin playing, they are given a limited number of colors to use to draw their picture. Players earn coins when their picture is guessed correctly and they can “buy” more colors. As compared to other mobile games such as Words with Friends, the purpose of the game is not to beat the other player. Rather, players want to draw an image that the other player can guess. While the game is so simple and so easy, it’s also so addicting.
So, how can a mobile drawing game teach us more about SEO training? Surprisingly enough, it can teach us a lot.
Words are key
As mentioned above, players can select from three words and each word is worth a certain amount of coins depending upon its difficulty to draw. Players can take the easy route and draw something simple or take the challenging route and draw something that requires strategic thinking. But, players should always keep the other player in mind and think if this is a word the other player will think to guess, or a word they are familiar with.
The same scenario occurs when choosing keywords. When selecting the best keywords, it’s important to pick words that are competitive and words that people are searching for. Selecting words that people aren’t searching for will not yield the results you’re looking for.
Waiting is not fun
While Draw Something doesn’t put a time limit when drawing a picture, it’s commonly understood by all players that waiting for a player to finish a picture is bothersome. Players want to see the picture as soon as possible in order to guess the word.
The same goes for loading a website. Web audiences don’t like having to wait for a page to load that they’re interested in viewing. Rather, it turns away an audience, thus your traffic.
Although players are to draw pictures, some bend the rules and simply write words. This takes away the fun of the game and bores the other player. Players are impressed by uniquely drawn pictures since they are using their fingers.
While content is king in SEO, pictures highly attract the interest of web audiences. Their creativity and design speak to an audience just as words do, but in less time, and sometimes space.
Reach the social network
When players are looking for others to play the game with, they can scan their social network contacts to find another player. Or, players may simply turn to their social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter and ask their friends and followers to play.
Social networking has demonstrated itself a successful way to reach a large audience. Businesses can utilize social media sites to not only sell their products or services, but also engage and interact with customers. Social networks allow users to share valuable information, upload pictures and videos and obtain feedback.
Thanks to the mobile app, Draw Something, we can learn how to better our SEO skills to attract customers.